Cleveland Browns Fire Hue Jackson and Todd Haley

When Hue Jackson was retained for a third year as Browns head coach after posting a 1-31 record the questions were obvious: Who does he have pictures of? or more simply, Whaaaaat?

Turns out 3-36-1 was the breaking point. The Browns are finally firing Jackson, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Cleveland has sputtered in recent weeks, losing three straight, including Sunday’s 33-18 shellacking at the hands of the Steelers.  At 2-5-1 the Browns are deeply nestled in last place in the AFC North. No other team in the division is below .500.

Jackson’s firing comes on the heels on reports that offensive coordinator Todd Haley was on the hot seat and that Jackson believed he should insert himself more into the Browns offense. In far more shocking news, the Browns also fired Haley, who on the surface seemed likely the most suitable interim head coach. Haley was 19-27 between 2009-2011. He then spent the past five seasons as OC for the Steelers, helping to mold that group into a perennial top five offense. Despite Cleveland’s offensive slide in recent weeks, Haley was one of Cleveland’s biggest offseason additions and his ousting comes with many questions.

Jackson getting the ax was far more obvious. His tenure in Cleveland was not only marred by losing but by inept coaching at every turn which is most clearly evidenced by the Browns’ 1-4-1 in overtime under his watch. But the issues went beyond an inability to prevail in close games. There were severe game management ineptness, bad personnel decisions, and, questions of toughness. This was illustrated during Hard Knocks when Haley and new receiver Jarvis Landry demanded hardcore practices while Jackson wanted to give players “preventative” days off.

The firing of Jackson and Haley is the most dramatic in a series of recent moves in Cleveland that signal a significant cultural shift. New general manager John Dorsey shocked even the deepest insiders when he took Baker Mayfield no 1 overall. He also added key free agents, orchestrated a trade for Josh Gordon and generally demanded an excellence in Cleveland for which Jackson was not equipped to lead. Jackson was supposed to be some sort of QB whisperer but of the six quarterbacks who started under Jackson, exactly none of them improved.

With Haley gone as well, feisty defensive coordinator Gregg Williams  may be the leading candidate to become the interim head coach but his temperament may not be ideal for a head job.. That move would also cause an issue in house given that star defensive end Myles Garrett questioned Williams’s game plan against the Steelers Sunday. After forcing six turnovers in Week 1 against Pittsburgh, the Steelers had none in the rematch.

Perhaps Hard Knocks star Bob Wyllie will get a shot, or heck even Moose the office could do more with the roster talent than Jackson was able.

Whoever replaces Jackson in the interim is likely to only be temporary. Dorsey is going to run a fascinating coaching search and should have his pick of the candidate litter given the desirable foundation that has built.

The pieces are falling in place for Cleveland, now they just have to find the right leader.